Archive for December 31st, 2011

December 31, 2011

The DC Folly Trolley

Soft Terrorism

The army describes protest movements, that is people exercising their Constitutional right of free speech, as soft terrorism.

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Protestors: Soft terrorists??? (Photo by Midnightblueowl).

So if Obama, or any other president, decrees protestors are terrorists he can send them to Gitmo without trial or benefit of legal representation; he can order drone attacks against them on American soil; or he can send in the tanks to gun them down.


Chris Matthews made a comparison of Newt Gingrich to a car bomber. I’m not sure how Matthews came up with the “car bomber” metaphor, but I’m not seeing that. Fat, egotistical, adulterer, yes, sounds a lot better to me. “Car bomber”, a bit extreme, even for Gingrich.

Reportedly, Obama has been referred to as much worse in private conversation.


Free Market Mythology

Petroleum sold in a “free” market??? I here that nonsense all the time. If you’ve been beguiled by free market ideologues, you may want to read up on OPEC and monopolies – the very essence of a rigged marketplace.

Adding to monopolistic distortions of the market, the oil industry rigidly controls supply by controlling refinery capacity. The last refinery built in the US was in 1976. Since then the oil industry has closed, rather than upgrade, several older refineries. The reason given is that to maximize profit at a refinery, it has to operate at or near 100% capacity. So to prevent under-use and oversupply, older plants were abandoned and dismantled. Thus the industry can carefully manage supply and as we all know when supply is controlled against continuously rising demand prices will rise.

A third control device is the commodity market. You may recall that gasoline is sold at auction, in much the same manner as wheat and corn, where bidders buy against future supply. When supply is carefully managed the price is bid up.

So if you feel bad because you believed petroleum products are sold in the mythical “free market”, don’t.. I’ve heard economists with masters degrees refer to the “free” market in petroleum. Obviously they have been thoroughly brainwashed beginning with Economics 101.

Your senator or congressman has no doubt uttered the same “free market” manure that oil industry execs and economists spread about the planet. And whether they believe it or not, the politicians are paid well by industry lobbyists to shovel that shit. And they do a remarkable job as propagandists for the oil industry. They earn their payoff money.

So tawdry is the money exchange between industry and dirty politicians that we can compare the activity that occurs in Follyland, DC to the crimes committed by 20th century mobsters who demanded money from businesses to “protect” them from calamity.

Today’s lobbyist eagerly pays protection money to the “mobsters” in Congress and the White House and these scoundrels provide protection through legislation that industry demands. And, if you didn’t already know, many of these laws are written by lawyers who work directly for the industry.


Lots of people might be able to swing a vote for Newton Leroy, He is what we used to call in college “a real hair man.” That’s something a lot of men always wanted to be but we could never quite manage it.

I’m not sure of the etymology of the phrase. But I do know a definition was never necessary – provided you were aware of the reputation of the guy being referred to as a real hair man. Context was all that was ever needed. And if you know anything about Newt’s past, well, the phrase applies and no explanation is necessary. And, who knows, his rep could certainly swing some votes his way.


The Keystone Pipeline

Oil companies have stubbornly avoided constructi­ng new refining capacity in order to maintain rigid control of supply and therefore price. I suspect control of supply is one reason for the Keystone pipeline in the first place. To put another refinery on line, for example, would increase the supply of gasoline – a no-no when your goal is price control through supply management.

The project does hold the promise of jobs, however, although most will be temporary and the number has been vastly overestimated, at least according to impartial studies. The figure coming from TransCanada, the Canadian company that proposed the pipeline, is 20,000 jobs; other studies estimate 10,000 jobs; the State Department figure is 7,000.

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The Alaska Pipeline, an eyesore at the very least. No telling what the Keystone Pipeline will look like. (Photo by Ryan McFarland from Petersburg, AK).

Other issues prevail as well. The pipeline is slated to cross an aquifer of inestimable value. Can we trust that the pipeline will afford fool proof protection for this water supply? Can we trust that the line will be built to even minimum standards? Or will contractors take short cuts to swell profits? Will regulators and inspectors-now regulated by those they are supposed to regulate-be trusted to perform their sworn duty to ensure the safety of the project, particularly after they have been lavished with wine, women and whatever else is in the corporate bag of bribery tricks.

Will PIGS (pipeline inspection gauges) be properly utilized? Will the information the devices transmit be acted upon?

If an honest inspector reports a defect will it be corrected or will the whistleblower be fired after a backchannel phone call to a senator or representative – a practice that defuses honest inspection.

Whadda you think?

And if all of the standards are rigidly adhered to, do we really want what could easily turn into an eyesore running down the width of this magnificently beautiful landscape? Especially during the construction phase. And afterward when numerous pumping stations mar the scenery.

The better way would be to construct a new refinery.

To put a refinery on line however could increase the supply of gasoline. And you know what happens to price when supply increases. I suspect the reason for the pipeline in the first place is to avoid at all cost bringing a refinery on line so the oil industry can continue its rigid control of supply.


I predict the South will rise in unison and sing in praise of Newt. I can hear repressed preachers below the Mason-Dixon line pulpitting in full throated glory: “Any man who treats women the way Gingrich does gets my vote. He’ll end abortion, he’ll save marriage and he’ll end all this equality claptrap. He’ll end sex education; he’ll fire teachers who hand out rubbers in the cafeteria; he’ll stop pre-marital sex by putting kids to work in schools. Got to keep the youngins moral, ya know. Especially after they start lookin’ real good. Uh. Praise the lord.”


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Refinery at Anacortes, WA. (Photo by Walter Siegmund (talk)

Two New Refineries Proposed. Now In The Delay Stage. Blame It On the EPA.

Two new refineries are currently on the drawing board. They promise to deliver cleaner fuel from state of the art plants with greatly reduced air and water pollution.

Arizona Clean Fuels Yuma is seeking to build a plant in Arizona and Hyperion Energy is in the permit phase of construction of a refinery in South Dakota. And, as expected, there are delays.

Too often the Environmental Protection Agency is blamed for postponing start up . Signed into law by the socialist president – at least by today’s standards – Richard M. Nixon, agency regulations are faulted for delays and provide a convenient scape goat for the oil industry’s stubborn refusal build needed refineries and bring more production capacity on line .

While strict regulations are in place making delays in the construction of a new plant inevitable, the EPA is only partly responsible. State permits are also required and are often more exacting than the Federal variety.

In addition to air quality standards, provisions for storm water drainage, water discharge and water quality are essential and local regulations are often stringent. Local zoning laws may also need to be revised to permit industrial construction and these revisions take time.

Moreover, issues that have nothing to due with environmental policy impact greatly on new construction. Company lawyers and executives bargain ruthlessly and endlessly with state officials over the incentive packages a state government is willing-or more often forced-to provide, mostly give backs in taxes .

Currently, the biggest factor in delays is the matter of financing. A new refinery costs billions to construct. And in today’s sluggish economic environment, banks are reluctant to lend.

So, while extremists on the right continue to blame the EPA and environmental organizations for the lack of new refinery construction, the agency and green advocates are used as convenient whipping posts for executives who want to control supply, lawyers who insist on ever more state give backs and bankers who are wary about lending.

Eventually the refineries will be completed but be forewarned, if past practice holds, older refineries will come off line and be dismantled. Again, supply will be strictly controlled to support price levels in a rigged market with rising demand.


With the rise in popularity of Ron Paul in the polls, you might want to familiarize yourself with his ideology. If you haven’t done so already, you can read up on the Ludwig von Mises Institute, the Austrian School of Economics and refer from time to time to Lew Rockwell’s libertarian blog. These sites bring insight and perspective to the economic nonsense regurgitated by Ron Paul and his ilk.


I cannot vote for Mitt Romney because he has robbed numerous banks across the country.

Actually, the foregoing is not intended to be a factual statement. But then most of what Romney says about Obama isn’t either.

On the other hand, a slight revision of the statement bears much truth. Romney was a banker who robbed people and, like so many Wall Streeters, is the modern version of a bank robber. His hedge fund bought up businesses, fired loyal workers whose seniority earned them good wages and benefits, hired cheap labor and then sold off the business for a profit. Highway robbery! That’s how Romney got rich.


Religion is like a penis. It’s fine to have one. And it’s OK to be proud of it. But please don’t take it out in public and whip it around. And please don’t try to shove it down everyone’s throats.

Sorry, but I don’t have the name of the author of that statement.

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Talk about whipping it out in public. And it ain’t “that ole tyme religion.”  The work is entitled “Well Endowed Mercury”, created between 89 BCE and 79 CE, artist unknown.


Now that it’s over perhaps we can discuss Christmas in an unemotional light.

Christmas is and should be a secular holiday for those who wish to observe in that way. I would venture to say that for a very large number of Christians, the holiday is far, far from a religious celebration.

Due to some fiction called the “war on Christmas”, however,many Christians seem to take offense at not being wished “Merry Christmas” in public. This war fiction of course is a blatant attempt to inject the Christian religion into the holiday season and shove it down everyone’s throats. Sadly, such childish insistence may be one reason many non-Christians refuse to join the celebrating.

I myself prefer to say “enjoy the holidays”, unless in church – where I have noticed for many years now that no one – no one – ever wishes “Merry Christmas” except in response to my own greeting.


Want to observe the real “war on Christmas” close and upfront? Venture out into what I call the “Christmas asteroid belt.” If you’ve ever gone shopping on a weekend during the holidays, you get my drift. If there’s anything to be grateful for during this season, it’s returning home safely after a foray into the mall. Every year, it seems, a few never return.


I’m particularly fond of holiday invitations – gathering together with friends and relatives. Occasionally these visits will produce a “religious experience.” Not to worry though. I am always the designated passenger.

Enjoy the holidays – everyone. There’s lots more to come.